Sunday Snippet: The Power of the Outdoors!
Each summer it always amazes me the tranformative power of the outdoor experience. The girls arrive at the beginning of each session, many still clutching their iPods and cellphones, wearing the latest trendy labels, displaying an anxiety about the experience they are embarking on at camp. But within hours (sometimes even quicker than that!) after the electronics disappear and the designer apparel is shed, the sound of conversation and laughter rises significantly! Yes, being outside is something else when it comes to having fun and being in a community!
Unfortunately, being outside is sadly underrated in our culture. We have built shopping malls, domed stadiums, enclosed skyways and tunnels to avoid having to deal with the uncertainty of what awaits us outdoors. It’s too hot or it’s too cold, it’s too cloudy or it’s too sunny, it’s too windy or it’s too calm, it’s raining, it’s snowing, it’s icy, it’s wet, it’s dusty – we are becoming averse to the inconsistencies of our environment. But what are the disadvantages of the always-72-degree temperatures, the properly balanced humidity, the hepa-filtered climates we have in our highly managed interior settings? More than we realize!
We are keenly aware of the increase of obesity and depression diagnoses among our children, their seemingly diminishing social skills, along with the exponential increase in time spent in front of screens. It seems clear that big problems exist for our kids and young adults, but the solutions seem far less obvious. What can be done to counter all of these troubling issues?
Go take a walk!
This isn’t just a flippent, defiant response suggesting we just ignore these issues. It is an actual solution to countering the negative stressors our children and youth are experiencing. Research has repeatedly shown the restorative nature of being outside with the wind in our faces, feeling the chill or the heat and even the rain or the snow. Being outside is good for one’s health!
Richard Louv, author of Last Child In The Woods and The Nature Principal, recently penned an article exploring the healing and energizing power of the outdoor experience – Peace Like A River: There’s a Time for Hyper-vigilance and a Time to Pay a Different Kind of Attention. He described how nature provides respit for children and these experiences remain in our hearts and minds, helping us to stay calmer and more focused even as adults. He calls them our ‘meadow memories’. Louv quotes a young girl he recently listened to:
“When I’m in the woods,
I feel like I’m in my mother’s shoes.
It’s so peaceful out there and the air smells so good.
I mean, it’s polluted, but not as much as the city air.
It’s like you’re free when you go out there.
It’s your own time.
Sometimes I go there when I’m mad
— and then, just with the peacefulness, I’m better.
I can come back home happy,
and my mom doesn’t even know why!”
An experience at WeHaKee Camp for Girls provides an intentional community that takes place nearly entirely outside. It can provide each girl with an endless collection of ‘meadow memories’ in just one summer! By sending a girl to WeHaKee, parents give their daughters the chance to experience outside in ways that are not available at home or school. Combining the fresh air opportunities with the remarkable relationships girls create at WeHaKee helps them develop a positive outlook and strong resiliency in all that they do well beyond their time at camp.
Come to WeHaKee to create your ‘Meadow Memories’ this summer! Click HERE to register for Summer 2013.